Monday, March 8, 2010
Write back soon!
The semester started out with a round of applause in one class when I told them that I had received their pen pal letters. (The letters came about a month ago, but we were on break for Spring Festival). It seems their pen pals were just as excited to get my students' letters. One American student wrote, "I was happy to get your letter ☺. My day wasn’t starting out so well so it was a good cheering up.”
My students wrote their return letters today. Mostly, I instructed them to write about school life in China. It's a striking contrast to the typical American student's. First, students at my school start the day at 6:20 a.m. for outdoor morning exercise. Then they have a period of self-study before breakfast, and class starts at 8:15 a.m. The last class -- the eighth of the day -- ends at 4:50 p.m. But there's more classroom time after dinner. From 6:30 p.m. to 9:30 p.m. the students have more self-study classes, broken up by a 15-minute eye exercise break. Sometimes I am already in bed when I hear their final bell ring. Then it's the same thing all over again the next day and the next day, every day of the week. The students' only break is a few hours Sunday afternoon.
This schedule makes it hard for students to get in trouble. Nearly every minute is accounted for. Unfortunately, there is very little room for extra-curricular activities. I think Americans put much more emphasis on our sports teams and music lessons and art and drama classes. But there's simply no time for such activities for Chinese students. The American students, my students think, are living the good life over there.